It was a tough week for all of us. Let’s get into the task of putting it all together, shall we?
Overreactions of the Week
The Huskies Suck.
I think I’ve seen or heard just about every variation of this overreaction. And, admittedly, I too feel once again betrayed and let down by a team that is supposed to be competing at not just the highest levels of the conference but also in the nation. To not be able to muster more than one TD at home against an unranked Cal team seems like just another one of those annual let down games (Arizona...ASU...Cal last year). The best teams in the nation do have those kinds of games ... but they still end up winning them.
Somehow this isn’t true for UW.
That said, I do think there are extenuating circumstances that warrant consideration. The weather isn’t an excuse, but it certainly evened the playing field by taking away a home field advantage with so many of the Husky faithful getting washed out. The defense rotated a bunch of young players and then put them in a ton of formations leading to many assignment errors. The offense was hampered by unusual drops and an overall lack of timing between Jacob Eason and his receivers - a growing pain that we all knew Eason was going to have to go through when facing real Pac 12 competition.
This season may be more of a “reload” than most of us expected, but that doesn’t nullify the talent on hand or the home schedule still in front of the team. There will be plenty of opportunity still to prove UW is worthy of being a ranked team.
The PAC 12 is out of the Playoff Race.
Washington’s loss takes another PAC 12 team (Oregon suffered it last week) below that magic line of the top 15 (no team has ever made the CFP after falling lower than 14 in the AP poll in any season) leaving just Utah as a team that has a conventional route still available to them to make the Playoff.
And while I certainly don’t think that the PAC 12 has much of a shot at doing anything other than eating each other as this season progresses, there is still room for an unconventional story to play out. The Kedon Slovis story at USC is sure to catch eyeballs given that it is USC we are talking about. At 2-0 and with a very high profile schedule ahead of them, USC still has powder to burn in pursuit of a fairytale season. Similarly, there is still an opportunity for both Oregon and Washington to run the table from week 3 on out and build up a credible resume.
Unlikely? Highly. Possible? Certainly.
Chip Kelly should be on the hot seat.
Bruins fans are frustrated, sure. And there are legitimate doubts creeping in given the fact that Chip Kelly failed in his two NFL gigs and seems to loathe recruiting.
That said, I think we can all slow our roll on the notion that Chip Kelly is on any kind of schedule. Ignore for a second the fact that his hiring is the magnum opus for UCLA AD Dan Guerrero and that he is going to be given every opportunity to succeed. On the field, the Bruins are not actually that far away from competitive football. The defense is playing credibly even without Darnay Holmes. The offense is hampered with young players everywhere, including key positions on the offensive line (a true freshman is the starting LT) and at QB. Those positions are going to be given the chance to get better before any judgments on the future of the program are made.
And this remains true even if (when) Oklahoma smokes the Bruins this week.
The Cool Chart
The PAC 12 Power Rankings - after Week 2
12. Oregon State (0-2)
Oregon State 28, Hawaii 31
Ugh. Oregon State. Defense matters.
I will give the Beavers this. They twice had fourteen point leads in the game. If they could have done anything ... anything ... on offense in the second half, they likely escape a tough Hawaii road trip with a win.
But, alas, it was not meant to be. Maybe more luck at home against Cal Poly next week.
POG: RB Jamar Jefferson (31 rushes, 188 yds, 1 TD)
The sophomore is just a straight-up workhorse.
Next Up: vs Cal Poly
11. UCLA (0-2)
San Diego State 23, UCLA 14
I wonder at what point, if we have not already gotten there, do Bruins fans turn on their coach. I know that the conventional wisdom is that a coach needs three years to rebuild ... but I also know you see the biggest spike in performance shift in year two. The Bruins are indeed a young team, but that year 2 trajectory shift doesn’t seem to be happening.
The critical issue is the ongoing struggles of QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. DTR continues to show a complete lack of instincts as a field general and an inability to defeat his knee-pad 1:1 in fumble drills. In total, DTR led the Bruins to just 261 yards in total offense, and that was with star RB Joshua Kelley back in the lineup.
UCLA has now opened two straight seasons 0-2 for the first time in school history. Things look bleak with #4 Oklahoma and Heisman candidate Jalen Hurts on their way to town.
POG: LB Krys Barnes (11 tckls, 1 sack, 3 TFLs)
Barnes continues to show up with both effort and execution. He had a solid game leading UCLA’s defense against SDSU.
Next Up: vs #4 Oklahoma
10. Arizona (1-1) ▼
Northern Arizona 41, Arizona 65
Before we all overreact to what looks like a shocking score ... and it kind of is ... let’s keep in mind a couple of facts. First, Arizona was up 51-13 at halftime. Second, Khalil Tate was pretty much done playing at that point.
Now, with that context out of the way, have at it. Sure, Arizona’s offense was impressive. 720 total yards with an eye popping 431 coming from the ground. That’s elite no matter what the competition.
But that defense? 442 yards surrendered to NAU, 373 of which come through the air? That can’t happen. And the penalties? 11 for 127 yards? Unacceptable.
POG: QB Grant Gunnell (9/11, 151 yds, 3 TDs)
We’ll give the backup QB a little love here given how efficient he was overall.
Next Up: vs Texas Tech
9. Arizona State (2-0)
Sacramento State 7, ASU 19
You play to win the game. Am I right?
Well, that’s about the best thing that can be said about ASU’s ugly, ugly win over a fiesty Sacramento State team last Friday night. The Sun Devils really had trouble with just about every aspect of their offense, in particular the rushing attack, and a handful of ASU fan boobirds expressed their displeasure throughout the game.
It is clear that ASU is still installing offense for true freshman Jayden Daniels and that he has a long way to go. This isn’t like Dorian Thompson-Robinson in that you can see the potential that Daniels brings to the table. He has a pretty deep ball. But he lacks timing with his receivers, his touch is rushed and his repertoire is pretty much just screen passes and play action post routes. It’ll get better. Just probably not in time for this week’s road trip to Michigan State.
But that ASU offensive line against Sac State? Ugly.
POG: DL DJ Davidson (5 tckls, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFLs)
The ASU nose tackle caught my attention with some high motor kinds of plays before he got dinged up in the fourth quarter. He seems a bit undersized and might struggle with bigger offensive linemen. But he really came to play against Sac State and definitely provided a burst of energy.
Next Up: at Michigan State
8. Colorado (2-0) ▲
#25 Nebraska 31, Colorado 34
The Mel Tucker hype train is on the tracks and barreling towards conference play. After spotting the Cornhuskers a 17-0 halftime lead and then going into the final frame down 17-7, the Buffaloes mounted a fantastic comeback to beat a ranked Big Ten team in overtime.
If you happen to see this game scheduled for replay, just watch the fourth quarter. The two teams combined to score 38 points including a crazy 96 yard flea flicker play resulting in KD Nixon grabbing the longest touchdown pass in Colorado history.
It’s hard to really take any insights away from this game given how poorly Colorado played for much of it. However, you can really see that the entire team has bought into the Mel Tucker message and that QB Steven Montez (28 of 41, 375 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT) still can make plays under duress.
One big question I have is on the overall status of star Laviska Shenault. He played dinged up and was simply not a huge factor for what is now the second week in a row. The Buffs are going to need his playmaking at some point.
POG: DL Mustafa Johnson (4 tckls, 3 sacks)
After an entire first half where I don’t think QB Adrian Martinez even once hit the turf, Johnson took it upon himself to create pressure on the Nebraska signal caller in the second half. I thought his effort was a trigger for the defense and that his fourth quarter strip sack that turned into points for Colorado a major turning point in the game.
Next Up: vs Air Force
7. Stanford (1-1 / 0-1) ▼
#23 Stanford 20, USC 45
Because of the lightning delay in Husky Stadium, I got the chance to watch most of this game. I have to say, I didn’t think that the Cardinal or backup QB Davis Mills looked all that bad. The problem is that he and his teammates just seemed a bit overmatched talent-wise across all of the key positions.
There were two glaring aspects of this game that I think portend trouble for the Cardinal going forward. The first is the rushing attack where, all in all, I think the O-line performed adequately even without LT Walker Little. Stanford, however, just isn’t getting anything out of RB Cameron Scarlett or backup Dorrian Maddox. It’s ugly.
Second, I think Stanford may have real difficulty mounting a pass rush this year. I will grant you that we’ve only seen Stanford against good competition, but it has been hard to spot any of the signs that you might see with units that have the ability, either due to a dominating interior presence or quickness on the edge, to constantly change the rhythm of an opponent’s offense. That’s a concern no matter how good you think the Stanford secondary is.
POG: RB/WR Conor Wedington (103 APY, 1 TD)
I probably should go with Paulson Adebo here as he had a great game, but he did get burned twice in spectacular fashion by USC WR Amon-ra St. Brown. Wedington, I thought, was the only offensive playmaker out there for Stanford and is really starting to come into his own as a receiver, rusher and kickoff returner.
Next Up: @ Central Florida
6. (23) Washington (1-1 / 0-1) ▼
Cal 20, #13 UW 19
There will be a lot of teeth gnashing and finger pointing among the Husky fan base this week. And that is understandable. There does come a time when the coaching staff has to look at what it is they are asking of their offensive players and have the debate on whether it is too much. I’m sure we’ll hear much chatter on that topic.
That being said, the overall effort for UW wasn’t actually that bad. It was discouraging to see the WRs have such a bad day with drops and in their inabiliy to get open. But, on the bright side, the O-Line actually pass protected pretty well even in the face of some aggressive blitzes. QB Jacob Eason just seemed to lack timing with his receivers on the few big plays that were actually there (thinking of two long passes, one each to Aaron Fuller and Andre Baccellia as well as the bootleg he missed for a TD to Baccellia).
On the defensive side, it was frustrating to see the d-line get gashed by Cal running backs in the second half. But I’d make the caveat here that the shuttling in of rotational players was significant with the UW coaches clearly committed to banking reps for players across the top three levels of the front seven depth chart. There were a lot of assignment mistakes out there. In addition, I thought UW’s strategy of blitzing more aggressively than normal clearly got exploited. Those kinds of things feel like they can get cleaned up.
POG: PK Peyton Henry (4 of 4 FGs, long of 50)
On the bright side, we have a downtrodden sophomore kicker who had the game of his life. He converted 100% of his attempts in a close game under terrible conditions including a 50 yarder that could have turned out to be a game winner. It was truly a career day for Peyton.
Next Up: vs Hawaii
5. California (2-0 / 1-0) ▲
Cal 20, #13 UW 19
Whether or not you think the Bears are for real or the Dawgs are pretenders, you can’t deny the fact that Cal traveled up to UW, endured a freaky delay of game and then punched the defending PAC 12 champs squarely in the mouth. In doing so, they put themselves in an advantaged position when it comes to jockeying for the PAC 12 North division title chase.
It’s hard to get a handle on anything that Cal does exceptionally well. In fact, it is much easier to point out the holes: poor QB play, almost non-existent receivers, spotty defensive line depth ... there are a few of those kinds of things. But against UW, they demonstrated that they are tough and that they don’t beat themselves. And that is often more than enough. Look at how they performed when UW got the ball into the red zone (3 FGs on 3 Red Zone trips) and how they committed zero turnovers as evidence.
POG: LB Evan Weaver (18 tckls, 2 TFLs, 1 FF)
Give the kid credit, he backed up his talk with a sublime effort. He was literally everywhere against UW.
Next Up: vs North Texas
4. (24) USC (2-0 / 1-0) ▲
#23 Stanford 20, USC 45
Welcome to the limelight, Kedon Slovis!
The true freshman signal caller had a righteous debut in his first start since the loss of incumbent JT Daniels for the season. All he did was have what equates to a perfect day at quarterback while, at the same time, pointing a firehose at the hot seat that has become the perch of his head coach. He was just about flawless in executing Graham Harrell’s offense (28 of 33, 377 yards, 3 TDs) against what I consider to be a legit PAC 12 defense. Compare and contrast to the monstrosity of an offense that we saw in Husky Stadium.
But this game was about far more than Kedon Slovis. I thought the offensive line played pretty well as I can’t recall a ton of collapsing pockets. I also was really impressed with how well the USC defensive line created pressure, particularly in the second half. It was a statement game from a USC team that seems to be gaining confidence. That’s good, because another test awaits them on the road against BYU.
POG: CB Olijah Griffin (4 tckls, 4 PBUs)
I know, I know ... you are probably thinking that either Slovis or WR Amon-ra St. Brown deserve to be here. And they do. But Griffin played out of his mind while matched up primarily with Stanford TE Colby Parkinson. Despite giving up 6 inches of height, Griffin’s athleticism helped him to erase four passes to the Stanford star, including two that would have been TDs. He was awesome.
Next Up: @ BYU
3. (20) Washington State (2-0) ▲
Northern Colorado 17, WSU 59
You can point to the competition all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the emergence of Anthony Gordon at QB hasn’t caught our attention. The senior QB put up another Gardner Minshew kind of day going 31 of 36 for 464 yards and four TDs against one INT versus Northern Colorado. That kind of production has driven WSU to an average of 58.5 games per game over their first two. Not bad.
It is hard to gauge where WSU is in the trenches or across the entirety of the defense given the competition so far. We might get a better sense of that against a Houston team that is Oregon State-ish on D but has a high octane offense.
POG: WR Brandon Arconado (8 recs, 127 yards, 1 TD)
Gordon is probably the real POG, but I can’t help but to take advantage of the opportunity to recognize the underdog. Arconado is a senior who most fans don’t know about. He really shined against Northern Colorado.
Next Up: vs Houston (Denver, CO)
2. (15) Oregon (1-1) ▲
Nevada 6, #16 Oregon 77
The Ducks, as the score would imply, were dominating in their first game back since their gut-wrenching loss to Auburn in week 1. I had written that I thought Oregon might be due for a let down. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The Duck D came out to prove a point surrendering just 192 yards of total offense to the Wolfpack. On the flip side, Justin Herbert and his high-flying offense racked up 623 total yards including 221 yards on the ground.
Looking at that Oregon offensive output is like looking at a video game box score. 14 different receivers (including OL Brady Aiello) caught passes and each of the seven thrown TD passes went to different receivers. TE Jacob Breeland seems to have become Herbert’s go to guy in the continuing absence of key receivers such as Mycah Pittman, Brendan Schooler and Juwaun Johnson.
POG: QB Justin Herbert (19 / 26, 310 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs)
This is kind of Herbert’s MO playing out in real time. Against inferior competition, Herbert tends to always look like the potential number one pick in the draft. His numbers were ridiculously good on Saturday.
Next Up: vs Montana
1. (11) Utah (2-0) ▲
Northern Illinois 17, #13 Utah 35
Not even the return of former Cal QB Ross Bowers to a PAC 12 stadium was enough to derail what is now the top ranked team in the conference. That said, Utah wasn’t exactly sharp in this game. The defense, in particular, looked vulnerable to NIU’s offensive schemes in the first half. But, as good teams do, they settled down, made their adjustments and dominated the second half.
The most encouraging aspect of the game was seeing Utah’s offense play with great efficiency (407 yards) and ball control (no turnovers). RB Zack Moss didn’t have his best day with just 87 yards, but he scored two TDs and kept Utah moving sticks.
POG: OLB Devin Lloyd (10 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT)
Lloyd is one of the new starters at LB next to Francis Bernard (12 tackles). He plays that Rover-style position for the Utes and, as you can tell from his stat line, had a productive night against the Huskies.
Next Up: vs Idaho State